Sometimes I think working with my mate Lish is the only thing that keeps me sane at work. But I worry that actually somehow together we make each other insane. Like whose idea was it to make marmalade at 9 o’clock on a school night? It seemed like a good plan for a while but at 1 in the morning, half dozing, half watching the soccer as we waited for it to reach the crinkle stage.. well right then it didn’t seem so sane. We started to think of all our friends who hate marmalade. What were we doing? Why? Would it ever set?
All this is forgotten though when I see the look on people’s faces as they taste the product of our insanity and enjoy what one dear eater called “the best marmalade in the world.” And I have been obsessively eating it all the time. Oh it's so so good! Starting the day with this baby on tal's excellent crepes made my saturday. And don't even get me started on how great it is on croissants. Yes, maybe I did take a jar to babka the other day so I could have it on their croissants. Is that more insanity?
(if you’re not lucky enough to have a mandarin tree handy use whatever citrus you can lay your paws on)
Marmalade is real easy, it always seems to set even if you have the panic moment that it won’t. All you need is a big wide and preferably heavy pot. I’ve seen a recipe that didn’t have my flesh scooping step but this is how my friend Clare taught me and it’s always worked for me.
So all you need is some fruit and lots of white death sugar. We started with 5kg fruit and made about 13 big jars of marmalade. It took about 4.5kg sugar. Ok, lets get started...
- Put three saucers in the freezer. (No this is not part of the insanity – you’ll see)
- Cut the fruit in half (across not lengthwise) and stick in a pot with enough water to cover.
- Boil until the fruit is soft but not falling apart.
- Drain and let them cool a bit. Unless you are crazy (see above) and want to burn your fingers.
- Now you need to remove the seeds. This is kinda fiddly – use a fork or something. It don’t matter if you miss a few, you can scoop em out later. Keep the seeds.
- Now scoop the flesh out and keep.
- Cut the peel as finely as you can be bothered.
- Weigh the peel and flesh. Throw it in the pot with the same amount of sugar – yup scary amounts of sugar is what i'm talking about.
- Put the pips in a bit of muslin or a clean tea towel, tie it and throw it in the pot.
- Bring to the boil slowly letting the sugar dissolve but then boil the fuck out of it for a long time. Watch the soccer. Drink tea. Stir it a bit so it don’t stick.
- When it’s starting to look a bit thick you need to start testing it. Put a small dollop on one of your frozen saucers and wait. After 30 seconds push the top with your finger. If it crinkles it’s ready. You see the saucer is very cool – it simulates how your jam will be when it has cooled. If it’s not crinkling stay calm and keep cooking, it’ll set.
- When it’s ready put it into warm sterilised jars and stick lids on it.